Friday, 27 December 2013


It was a different kind of celebration for us this year.  To start, we were on our own and I don't remember a time when it has just been the two of us. But that was okay as an opportunity to play it down was welcome after living in the fast line for so long and with the run up to Christmas added. I didn't even get round to putting up decorations this year. It felt a bit bah-humbug but we were not expecting visitors and as I have so much around the house I want to achieve I decided the time spent putting decorations up and down could be put to better use.

So holding true to my plan for Christmas day I had a shower and put on my new fluffy fleece robe and slippers.  And I did little else except open presents, relax, and cook dinner for two. We had decided on an alternative to turkey and I chose a recipe from my new Jamie Oliver cookbook 'Save with Jamie'. We love roast pork with it's crisp crackling, and this recipe was a new take on a favourite. It didn't disappoint.

I also indulged in another favourite pastime, relaxing in front of the TV and catching up with films and favourite programmes.  Kirsty's Crafty Christmas was one that I watched and I loved the pom-pom maker that she demonstrated. Sadly I have been online and everywhere is sold out.  That's not surprising but I have made a note to remind myself to look again in a week or so. Obviously other people liked the look of these too!

While watching TV I suddenly heard a robin. He was sitting right outside the window and a big smile crossed my face.  My Dad always joked that he would come back as a robin and at his funeral one of these beautiful birds made its presence very known as we climbed back into the cars, ready to leave. We had already made our visit to the cemetery with wreaths and memories but this robin was another warm reminder of those who are not here to share this festive time.

Boxing Day was also a favourite kind of day, surrounded by family. Summer received the karaoke machine she hoped for and spent much of the time singing. I am always amazed that she knows the words to so many songs, and her just-three year old sister is fast in her shoes.
We were highly entertained and kept amused.

In the run up to Christmas we spent a wonderful day at a local RHS garden. They had arranged a barn full of craft activities for children as well as story telling and meeting Father Christmas. Now this was the most wonderful experience of all, and a moment I will always treasure. And so I was devastated afterwards to delete my memory card without downloading the video and photos to my computer! I have never done this before and was so annoyed with myself, it just showed the pressure I was under at the time. Luckily I had saved a couple of my favourite photos onto the Playstation and have since learnt that my daughter also took a video of Father Christmas. So I can make a copy. Phew!! I will save the story of this meeting for another time, meanwhile I hope your own Christmas has been restful, and just as you would have chosen. Sometimes it is important just to be where you need to be, regardless of expectation and time of year.

Summer with one of her cats.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

5 in 5 - December 2013 - MELANIE SOUTH BANK

Those who follow my posts might know that Melanie is my friend who lives in Australia.  She loves photography and enjoys taking part in this monthly challenge.... there is just one problem.  Melanie does not have a blog!  And so each month I post her photos and I love that we have found a way for her to take part. 
This month I have a huge apology to make. Melanie actually sent this to me at the beginning of the month but I have been so crazily busy at work and a home with Christmas looming that I am sadly behind. Sorry Melanie, I have been looking forward to sharing this so over to you:

I am still in the UK for December's 5 in 5 and planned to be in London for my photos.  That is were I was taking the train from Southampton and getting off at Waterloo where I begun a walk along the South Bank.  I just love the South Bank walk and seeing all the familiar sights of London.  How does one choose where to stop for 5mins though? I was stopping all the way along and took loads of photos.  Initially I thought maybe my first shots when I was around the London Eye but finally I have selected as my five minute slot a selection when St. Paul's was in view.  So there you have it.  I am scheduled to fly out on Wednesday so maybe for the January 5 in 5 I will be taking you back to Australia.  It seems one can never be sure about what lies ahead and definitely is not a word which can be applied to future possibilities.

If this has inspired you to take photos to add to this challenge you have until 25th before the link closes, then we'll be back for more on 5th January!  It's great fun and this post should answer any questions or give any other information that you need.
Thank you to Melanie and everyone else who has taken part so far this month. Links for these posts are here. And for those of you who follow this post you may be interested to know that Melanie is now back home with her other family in Australia. After a serious
accident her daughter in the UK is recovering well and life is slowly beginning to get back to normal for them all.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


Every week Julia asks 'What's on Your Workdesk Wednesday?' Well today mine is full of Christmas papers and packages. I have started to make Christmas cards:

and to put together my album for JOURNAL YOUR CHRISTMAS. This is a online course run by Shimelle Lane and I have 2 completed albums but I gave last year a miss. I don't want to do that again so this time I am trying to make it more manageable. I have decided on a chunky album because I know I get carried away, and I have made hinges that I will add the pages to as I complete them.
The pages are actually blank cards and more stash that I am using up. I will attach one end to the hinge, leaving a double page that folds back on itself so that each 'page' gives me four sides. I have added a double fold in the centre to give depth as I will also add flaps and pockets.  It will evolve as I make it as I have no firm plan.  I like to allow the element of flexibility and learn as I go.
I have chosen a selection of papers and chipboard shapes and I am continuing to try and use up what I already have.  Today I hope to put the first 4 pages together including a Manifesto.  My plan is to keep Christmas simple, to make as much as I can, and to spend time with friends and family.   
And last on my workspace are my new dies. I wrote last week how I had ordered these and this morning they finally arrived. I can now make more cards as I have been eagerly waiting for these to arrive!
Have fun with your own Christmas preparations and to see what others are up to pop over to Julia's here.

5 in 5 - December 2013 - GRAFTON WATERS

           Welcome to '5 in 5' where on the 5th of

 each month I post 5 photos that I have
taken in 5 minutes. 

Recently I went to Grafham Waters for a creative retreat.  The weather was dull and overcast most the time and I missed one or two photo opportunities of a rainbow or the sun breaking through the cloud and sending a ray of light on the water. Grafton is an outdoor centre and from our window we looked across a reservoir where sailors were wrapped up warm and bracing the elements.  Not for us... we were cosy inside with good food, company and much laughter.

It is good to get outside though, just to move around. And so I braced myself against the chill and took my camera out for some '5 in 5' photos.  I always try to choose an spot where there is much to see without too much walking because taking as many photos as you can in 5 minutes does not allow for much distance unless the photos are plentiful....

And here are my photos for December.  As the colour was so dull and dreary I have made a quick adjustment to some of them and I like how they are now so bright. It completely changes the mood and atmosphere.

I love the bright colour of these ropes.

Even the pirates were warm somewhere else....

The sailors appreciated the breeze though....

And after my five minutes of photo taking I was pleased to run back into this warm room and continue making my Christmas Advent! 

There are so many photo opportunities this time of year I may come back with '5 in 5' of my Christmas Decorations. They are still in the loft as I write and  I need to get organised. As always there is so much to do but I am determined to resist pressure and to keep this Christmas simple, fun and time with friends and family. 

And if you fancy bracing the elements or sharing other photos for this months challenge you would be VERY welcome! Here is the plan:

1.  Choose a location.

2.  Have your camera ready.

3.  Set a mobile timer for 5 minutes.

4.  Take as many photos you can until the time is up.

5.  Choose 5 photos to download and share by using the link tool.
   You have until the 25th of the month to add your photos. 
If you want to know more there are details here.

And one more thing - when you use the link tool, please click on your post title.  This will show the web address. Please right click, copy and paste this as your link.  This will take readers directly to your '5 in 5' blog page and be easier for them to find.
Thank you to those who have taken part so far. I have loved seeing your photos and hope you will be back with more. 

And don't forget, you have until 25th to post your link!

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